New car sales broke Australian records in April – and the industry says it’s struggling to keep up with demand

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  • Last month saw more new car sales than any April on record, according to the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI).
  • Sales would have been even higher if supply chain shortages had not impacted Australia’s new car market, FCAI chief executive Tony Weber said.
  • “People buy cars when they have economic confidence in the future, so the numbers are substantial here,” Weber told Business Insider Australia.
  • Visit Business Insider Australia’s homepage for more stories.

New car sales are tearing into the sunset, according to Australia’s peak automotive industry body, which says last month was the highest-selling April on record.


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And sales would be even higher were it not for supply chain shortages, one expert claims.

New data from the Federal Chamber of Automotive Industries (FCAI) reveals Australian motorists purchased 92,347 new cars over the month, up from the 38,926 sold in April 2020.

That massive year-on-year difference is to be expected, given the onset of industry shutdowns amid the COVID-19 crisis in early 2020.

But last month’s sales figure is also 22% higher than April 2019 levels, and marks the sixth consecutive month of new car sales growth.

FCAI chief executive Tony Weber said the thriving new car market was evidence of Australia’s broader economic recovery from pandemic shutdowns.

“People buy cars when they have economic confidence in the future, so the numbers are substantial here,” Weber told Business Insider Australia.

Consumer confidence is so high that it has effectively outstripped supply: The FCAI says COVID-era factory slowdowns, semiconductor shortages, and even the Suez Canal blockage have all contributed to low stock of available vehicles.

This means that April sales would have been even higher if dealers had stock to sell, Weber said.

“We know that if you walk into a dealer today, and buy a new car, the probability is you will have a wait, and some of the waits are quite substantial,” he said.

“So we do know that there is extra demand in the market. This number in some way is an aberration on the low side, because if we could deliver more vehicles, we would.”

Rentals and utes get the green light

The positive sales figures follow on from Australian Bureau of Statistics data, which showed that household spending on cars rose by 31.8% in the December 2020 quarter as economic conditions improved.

Yet Australians are not only buying vehicles for personal use. Sales to rental services spiked nearly 412% from March levels, indicating local operators are preparing for increased tourist travel.

And three of April’s five top-selling cars are utes, which Weber says have become an appealing option for families looking seeking work-capable vehicles.

“A lot of small businesses have utilised the ute for the business, and also utilise the ute for their family needs as well,” Weber said.

Sales of the Toyota Hilux ute in the second half of 2020 helped the Japanese carmaker stage a remarkable recovery, eventually prompting the brand to return more than $18 million in unneeded JobKeeper subsidy payments.

While the Ford Ranger ute dethroned the Hilux as Australia’s best-selling car for April, Toyota still sold 4,222 of the utes in April, making it the third-best seller of the month.

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